UC must put emphasis on education, not brand

July 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm 3 comments

Op-Ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle chooses one side of a hard problem.  When economic times are bad, it seems like a great time to explore ways of improving access to learning for a broader range of students.  On the other hand, the points in the piece are well-taken.  Our track record in on-line higher education in the US is poor.  Why should California pay to educate non-Californian students?  Where goes the teaching and research synergy (if it exists) in on-line learning?

The UC Board of Regents will discuss this week a proposal by the University of California president’s office for an ambitious plan to market UC online. The proposal entertains the vision of an eventual online bachelor’s degree that could tap new students throughout the world, from “Sheboygan to Shanghai.”

In fact, the track record for online higher education is very uneven. It requires enormous up-front investments and continual investments for upgrades. Given these high stakes and the financial pressures on UC in the current economic climate, it is crucial for California’s public university to move prudently.

via UC must put emphasis on education, not brand.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  July 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I’m a real skeptic on online education. It has the look of snake oil to me. Oh sure there are wonderful success stories but for each of those how many students drop out, never do the work, don’t learn or just use it as an excuse to not go to school?
    For a motivated student I think it can be a wonderful opertunity but many (perhaps most) need some external push that comes from going to a classroom and listening to a teacher.

  • 2. Barry Brown  |  July 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Many colleges and universities (mine included) see online education as a cash cow. The article suggests there is a large upfront cost, but the reality is most institutions simply buy a subscription to Blackboard and declare that they have an online instruction program. With no classrooms to heat/cool and clean, online course can indeed be very profitable. For a public institution like UC and community colleges, offering online courses to out-of-state residents brings in even more money.

    If online instruction is to be done correctly, there are indeed enormous costs: production studios, animators, camera operators, graders, and TAs, not to mention bandwidth, storage, and IT personnel. Given the current state of online instruction in the US, I’m skeptical that UC will do much better.

  • 3. weilunion  |  July 17, 2010 at 2:14 am

    The UC, like Harvard, Yale and other so-called educational instutitions understand the US citizen is broke, can never go to their colleges for the seats are too much and there are little if any ‘frequent flyer models” (scholarships). The isue now is to advertise to and attract foreign bourgeoise students, such as those arising in Asia.

    This way the seat is sold, for it is just a commodity, the school not only gets seat fare, but out of state residency fees as well. This will help fund the losses in capital construction costs and investments the wretched ‘educational leadership’ got itself involved with. Take Diane Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. He sold the college on investing in property and capital construction projects using derivatives and loans.

    Now the UC needs the out of country tuition to pay the ‘vig’.

    These colleges are not only not available to most US citizens, they will increasingly become diploma mills for the upper classes from all over the world, leaving our citizens and students prey for the for-profit predatory colleges and the overstuffed junior colleges that will pick up the broken lives and pocketbooks of students.

    As to the State College system in California: look for massive closures and the junior colleges become the ‘centers’ of learning.

    Capitalsim, a love story!


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